HEALTHCARE HIRING PERSPECTIVES BLOG

How to Use the 3 P’s to Predict Manager and Leader Success

Posted by  Bryan Warren

leadership-success.jpgBill is the COO of a three-hospital health system in a small town.  He’s been with the system for 30 years, starting as a nurse and moving up through the organization. He's been in his current role for 10 years.  He’s seen as a bit abrasive at times, but bright, direct, and effective.  He’s been serving the same CEO for those ten years.  They’re a good team.  The system is merging with another, slightly larger system with a more progressive culture.  He’s being considered for a larger role in the newly created system.  Is he a good fit?

Natalie is in her fourth year as a nurse.  She’s always been a top performer.  She’s perceived as dedicated, skilled, bright, and dedicated to her patients.  She’s being considered in the short term for a manager role and possibly for a long-term leadership track.  What are her chances of success?

This is always the issue, isn’t it?  How do you know if someone’s performance in their current role will predict performance in a different role?  There’s no exact science here – no tool or method that is 100% accurate at predicting success, but most healthcare organizations can do better.

We encourage clients to take a comprehensive approach, evaluating data in three areas: Past Performance, Perception, and Personal Attributes (the “Three Ps”).

  • Past Performance Data: First, is it available to you?  If it’s an internal candidate, you likely have something, but how objective and accurate is it?  How relevant is it?  For an external candidate, you are relying on their resume and references.  There is no doubt, however, that you need to evaluate any data available to you because often, past performance is a good predictor of future performance.

  • Perception Data: This is the sort of information you might get from a 360-degree assessment where you learn how the candidate is perceived by supervisors, peers, and subordinates.  Again, how objective and accurate is it? And how relevant?  This can be incredibly powerful and useful data as long as you understand its limitations and context.   These ratings are rather subjective and each rater is evaluating the candidate only within the context of their interactions.

  • Personal Attributes: This is data gathered by a solid behavioral assessment.  This might get at key innate personality traits that will impact performance.  These might include adaptability, delegation, and the propensity to be collaborative and comfortable with conflict. These tools can also get at relationship style and even thinking style.  Is the individual comfortable working with broad, complex concepts or do they need to focus on specific, concrete, and distinct issues?  Do they have a level of business acumen and how are they at strategic thinking?  This data has limitations, too.  Personality traits have a strong influence on behaviors, but are not ALWAYS predictive of performance.  No particular trait is going to be the determinative factor in performance.

Let’s think about Bill and Natalie: (First, know that each is going to interview well.  Bill is polished and likeable. He has plenty of great examples of his leadership skills and an understanding of the challenges facing the new system.  Same with Natalie – she’s pleasant, articulate, and passionate. Anyone interviewing her is likely to be impressed.)

How would Bill do in his new proposed role? 

  1. Past Performance Data: Bill has succeeded in his role, but how does his past performance data translate to the proposed new role?  He’s demonstrated the ability to lead others, to develop others, and to deal with complex problems.  He knows the organization inside and out and many of his team members were hired by him.  He’s personally worked in many of the departments he oversees.  However, he’s worked with the same CEO for his entire tenure.  They have a symbiotic relationship and share a somewhat traditional leadership approach.  These two call the shots.  The CEO has the vision and thinks strategically, but Bill is more about day to day operations. Bill is generally not an early adopter of technology solutions and has never been huge on innovation.  If you just look at his past performance data, though, he’s succeeded in what would appear to be a similar role.

  2. Perception Data: Bill’s most recent 360 feedback is solid.  His CEO thinks he’s wonderful (not surprising).  His peers find him to be a bit abrasive at times, but direct and fair.  His subordinates also rate him highly.  Heck, he hired most of them and has coached them through their careers.  A few have noted that they’d like to see Bill be better at seeking their input and feedback, but they trust his leadership.

  3. Personal Attributes: Here’s where the data starts to look a little confusing. Bill’s scores on Select Assessment for Healthcare Leaders show that: 

    1. He scores high on coaching, delegating and empowering others, negotiation, performance management, and providing feedback, as well as Interpreting Information and analysis, accountability, initiative, and planning and organizing. He’s naturally going to be good at these things and his past performance and perception data support this.

    2. He scored lower in areas including self-awareness, social awareness and sensitivity, motivating others, openness to new ideas, adaptability, and positive impact.   These are also consistent with the other data.  He’s been successful in his current role in spite of these innate weaknesses or because these attributes haven’t been particularly important. If you just look at his personal attribute scores out of context, you’d wonder how he’s been so successful or question the assessment results.

The new role would require Bill to adapt to a new leadership team and style.  A challenge with self and social awareness could present a problem.  The new, larger organization is also going to place an emphasis on new care delivery models and technology.  His skill at interpreting information and analysis has served him well in his current role.  In the new role, though, he’d need to think strategically, to constantly innovate, to be comfortable with being vulnerable in presenting new, novel ideas, and to successfully communicate and motivate his team and the organization as a whole.

Can he do these things? Perhaps.  They weren’t necessary for success over the past ten years.  Is it possible he can overcome the personal attributes that might be missing?  Again, perhaps, but it might be a big ask.  Personality traits and personal attributes are not always predictive but they tend to be.  If there were one big gap, perhaps he could be supported and coached.  Here though, the required attributes simply don’t align well with his strengths and weaknesses.  There is a good chance they would make it hard for him to succeed.

What about Natalie?  It’s a bit more straight-forward.

  1. Past Performance Data: Natalie's past performance data is positive but does not particularly translate.  As an individual contributor she’s a star.  She’s an outstanding nurse.  She has a high level of accountability and attention to detail. She’s a fanatic about completing her tasks and has high standards for herself.  In fact, she just can’t understand how people don’t have the same level of attention to detail or commitment to the job.  She’s worked on a few interdisciplinary teams and done well, but found them a bit frustrating.  Her current role has not, however, given her the chance to delegate, display business acumen, or motivate others. However, she has shown the ability and a willingness to find new solutions to problems and cheerfully adapts to new policies and procedures.

  2. Perception Data: Natalie's feedback from supervisors and peers is generally positive, too.  Her supervisors love her. Her peers generally do, too, recognizing her excellence and dedication.  Some have noticed though that she can be a bit abrasive and impatient in team settings.

  3. Personal Attributes: The assessment data shows us that she does indeed have the potential to succeed as a manager.  She scores lower than ideal in self and social awareness, meaning emotional intelligence needs some work.  She can be coached on that.  She also scores lower in conflict management – and it’s true, she doesn’t generally like conflict.  Although she’s not had an opportunity to display these skills, she actually scores high on things like coaching, delegating, providing feedback, planning and organizing, and performance management.  All in all, she has a set of personal attributes that would be a good fit for the role!

In both cases, you can make a decision less on gut instinct and more on a more global analysis of data that, when combined, has proven to be rather predictive of performance.  And, in Natalie’s case, when she’s in the new role, you can anticipate where she might have some challenges and work with her to grow as a manager.

Learn more about the looming healthcare leadership crisis below:

leadership healthcare

Tags:   healthcare hiring, healthcare leadership, leadership development, succession planning

Bryan Warren

Bryan is the former Director of Healthcare Solutions at Select International. He was responsible for developing and promoting tools and services designed specifically for the unique challenges faced by healthcare organizations.

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